St. Louis Rams Draft Grades: Risky Picks Earn Low Marks

Did the St. Louis Rams take too many risks in the the 2012 NFL Draft? One source says they did.

The St. Louis Rams added 10 new players to the roster via the 2012 NFL Draft. Though a few picks certainly defied expectations, reaction from fans has been mostly optimistic. Certainly the Rams were hamstrung to try and fill every single roster need the team had in one draft, but picks split between the offense and defense and improved already strong units at defensive line and in the secondary. That still wasn't enough to earn the Rams a decent grade from the analysts at NFL.com, who gave Les Snead's first draft a C.

Why?

Risk. It never ceases to amaze me just how risk-averse the media can be with other people's money or draft picks.

I am not by nature a risk taker, which is beside the point. Over the last three years of Rams history, a number of readers on this very site, myself included, have bemoaned the team's conservative tendencies, whether that was the so-called "safe" pick of Jason Smith or coach Spagnuolo's decided preference to not play for the win in games that where it didn't really matter.

The crux of the argument for giving the Rams a C grade is this:

But Snead took some risks with each of his top six picks, adding talented players with question marks about their off-field conduct and/or level of competition. Strong (but young) defensive tackle Michael Brockers was Snead's first draft pick with the team -- and could be the bellwether pick of the class, too.

Oddly enough, the riskiest pick of all, Janoris Jenkins, gets labeled as the Rams' best pick in the draft.

The worst? You know that you know the answer to this, but I'm going to tell you anyway, wide receiver Brian Quick.

Jacksonville's trade-up in Round 1 cost the Rams a chance at top receiver prospect Justin Blackmon, so they grabbed a Quick solution with the first pick of the second round. He has an NFL frame (6-foot-3, 220), but his level of competition and ability to grasp NFL offenses were serious concerns for scouts.

It matters which scouts you talk to, as opinions differ widely. As we noted on Monday, none other than NFL Films guru Greg Cosell took issue with criticisms of the Quick pick.

Cosell pointed out the small school bias by noting that Blackmon has no more route running experience than Quick, thanks to playing in Oklahoma State's spread offense.

Said Cosell:

... you can make the argument that Quick, who's significantly bigger than Blackmon, is more naturally athletic. Quick is a very fluid and smooth athlete with excellent lateral quickness and deceptive vertical speed due to stride length. It's not a stretch at all, when you analyze Quick's physical and athletic attributes, to understand why the Rams selected him early.

One man's reach is another man's value pick. In case you haven't noticed by now, draft grading is one of the more subjective activities in the business.

Wide receiver Chris Givens, the Rams' 4th-round pick, did get some praise in the NFL.com article.

He doesn't tower over defenders like Quick, but his 4.4 speed and solid hands make him a promising vertical threat. He must prove to his coaches that he's ready to do what is necessary to succeed, but if he does -- NFL defenses beware.

On Friday, the Rams get their first look at the rookie class on the field, when rookie minicamp starts. This weekend's practices are a far cry from what will happen in training camp, but it does give coaches a hands-on, so to speak, assessment of where players stand in grasping NFL concepts, like route running or coverage, and just how much work lies ahead once training camp does finally start.

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